Should the Catholic Church employ more professional laypersons?

One of the issues brought up in a previous post was that the Catholic Church should attract more professionals by offering them a higher pay. I would like to address this issue, as suggested by Chris, by bringing it up in a separate post.

FIRSTLY, the Catholic Church does employ a good number of people already, some with years (or decades) of experience in their field, often a very specific field, such as in pastoral care. Many of the people employed in the Catholic Church have a job scope that is specific towards the Catholic Church's needs, and there are very few people who meet those qualifications, regardless of their job experience in the secular world.

For example, if the diocese is looking for a highly qualified catechist, it would not offer an attractive pay even if its applicants are former teachers and lecturers of many years of experience, simply because while their experience in the secular world is of some use, they lack the specificity required in that particular job.

It is more than a mere job switch, it is closer to a career switch, since the aim, regardless of the job, tends to be quite different. As such, why should the Church pay a professional an attractive pay, if his profession is not exactly what the Church is looking for? Using the example of catechist, only one who has been trained in the specific field of catechism deserves such a pay.

SECONDLY, I certainly do believe that the majority of Church employees are already receiving a reasonable pay. If not, how would they be able to survive this long in such a job? Furthermore, how many Church employees have left their job solely because they are not being paid enough? None that I know of. Can anyone give a figure?

In the secular world, it would seem that many people never seem satisfied with their pay. People often leave their job for another because of a higher pay.

Some questions raised on this issue are:

- Is working in the Church just another job?
- How much does one consider a reasonable pay?
- Could one do with a lower pay by cutting down on unnecessary forms of expenditure, for example?

If insufficient pay really is the issue that makes working in the Church unattractive to some people, then I would say the reason for wanting to work in the Church is somewhat questionable. After all, what Church employees are paid is already reasonable, as shown in their length of employment. What may be a reasonable pay to some may be too low for others, but this is a subjective matter. Church employees have and still show that the Church does provide for them reasonably well.

THIRDLY and perhaps most importantly, a professional layperson is more valuable to the Church by being a Christian where he is in the professional world, than by being working in the Church. The laity is the front line of the Church in the world. If he is indeed a professional and good at what he does, then he will definitely do more good out there than working in the Church.

In an ideal situation, positions within the Catholic Church should be filled up by religious and priests. These minister to the laity, who in turn carry out the work of evangelisation. But we are not in an ideal situation, and we have far too few religious and priests, hence the need to hire laity to fill up roles that should rightfully be filled by the religious and priests.

The professionals, by virtue of their capabilities, belong in the secular world where they do the Church the most good there. This is, after all, the mission of the laity.

IN SUMMARY, the points are:

1. Lack of specificity in profession does not justify an attractive pay.

2. Using a higher pay to attract better workers raises the question of motive of working in the Church.

3. The mission of the laity is to be a Christian in the world. Professionals, by virtue of their capability, do the most good for the Church in the secular world.

What are your thoughts on this?


Nick Teo said...

What I think the question to ask is, what are the needs of this church. Are there any needs which the church can identify.

Once there is a demand, then we will look for the supply. Apparently, the church and authorities refuses to acknowledge the needs of the church. Or rather I suspect is the over-reliance and abuse of the religious people to do everything that is directly or remotely linked to the church.

If I were to give one single suggestion for the church, is to have a proper college to provide adequate competence, and accept the fact that part-time can never be as useful as full-time.

I disagree that once people see full-time people around and they will stop serving. Look around at all the so-called charities, the volunteers work hand in hand with the full-timers. With adequate rules and regulations around, everyone will be able to co-exist.

No one is saying that the religous will be replaced, in fact we need them around to provide spiritual guidance. And in fact, with full-timers around, these spiritual leaders will be able to finally do the only thing no lay person can do, provide spiritual advices.

Daniel said...

Ah yes, that is a good question: What are the needs of the Church? You didn't seem to mention very many.

Let's take a look at your one suggestion. Can you expand on your suggestion? Why is there a need for a Catholic college? How much does it cost to build one, and is that economically feasible? How will it be run? How does a Catholic college serve the nation? This are just some questions that come to mind. Feel free to elaborate on your suggestion.

Regarding what you disagree about, I have no clue what or who you are disagreeing with. Can you please explain?

Lastly, I disagree that religious are the only ones capable of providing spiritual advice. Take for example, the Life Direction Team, which is made up of both religious and laypeople who offer spiritual companionship and direct individual silent retreats.

ChrisYeo said...

Hi Nick,

I don't think that Daniel's questions have been adequately answered. The answer is still somewhat ambivalent: Should the Catholic church here hire lay workers? What are the specific needs of the church? What are the roles that are needed? Why are professional laypersons necessary?